Lana Hope, homeschooled in a Christian fundamentalist family, describes the appeal of her former faith:
A few years ago one of my friends had a birthday party, and he invited all the homeschool families he knew to his party. It may seem odd to an outsider to have young children at his 20th birthday party, but it was not the least bit weird to me (parties with my family are the same way; there were as many kids under 13 at my 18th birthday party as there were teens). But after an entire evening of playing board games with people of all ages, washing dishes together, and praying for each other, one of my public school friends (the only person who had attended public school at the party) said to me, “That was so much fun. I never experienced this in my life.” She explained that she never had an evening playing board games with children of all ages. In fact, she never went to someone’s house and had them pray for her either. It was foreign to her, but she liked it.
Fundamentalism offers that kind of community. Yes, the community creates pain and breaks sometimes, but it’s still community that often attracts people to fundamentalism. I was looking through photos of my teen years earlier this week, and every photo of me has a child in the picture.
PZ Myers reflects on the anecdote:
We’d like to believe that the triumph of secularism is inevitable — how can we fail when we’re going up against such nutty ideas? — but maybe it isn’t, if we neglect social and community and family ideals and pander only to nerdy asocial guys in tech. We really need to wake up to the reasons normal people find value in weird religions.